If you are new to the area or relocating to Silicon Valley, you may find the sprawling, diverse city of San Jose a little confusing at first, so today I want to do a broad overview of the area.  San Jose covers about half of Santa Clara County, includes over a million people, with many school districts, and has lots of distinct areas.  Much of it was filled with orchards 100 years ago and was a significant portion of the area then known as The Valley of Heart’s Delight.


Public Schools in San Jose

Since many people coming to San Jose are interested in the public schools, I want to note that the city boundaries are not the same as school district boundaries.  Nor do the school boundaries follow zip codes.  The lines were drawn before most of the valley was incorporated into cities or towns, so that’s why it is the way it is – old boundaries, many dating from the 1800s. The Union School District serves students in the Cambrian area of San Jose as well as residents of the eastern end of Los Gatos, for example.  The biggest school district in SJ is San Jose Unified.  To see all of the school districts in the county, visit the Santa Clara County Office of Education site.  (A good place to check school scores is SchoolAndHousing.com.)

Districts or Larger Areas within San Jose

Let’s start with a map I created with the major areas identified (this may not be precise but it’s close).


San Jose Districts or Areas map



Central San Jose includes many historic neighborhoods within the downtown area (Naglee Park, Vendome, Japantown) as well as many other charming neighborhoods close to downtown (the Rose Garden, Shasta Hanchett, Buena Vista and the tiny area of Little Italy).  Often there are historic homes and neighborhoods with beautiful architecture.  Willow Glen is just southwest of downtown and is not properly part of central SJ, but it is close.

North San Jose includes the bayfront area of Alviso, Berryessa (on the Milpitas border) and the area broadly referred to as North San Jose.  Part of Berryessa is in the foothills and offers lovely views.

East San Jose begins in the flatlands and climbs into the eastern foothills.  The Alum Rock area is in this eastern side, but perhpas northeast is a better description.  East San Jose features the very popular flea market, Eastridge Mall, and a water park, as well as the Little Saigon neighborhood.

Southest San Jose – along the eastern foothills but toward the south you’ll find the Evergreen neighborhood, most of which are in the hills.  The south end of Evergreen enjoys some luxury neighborhoods such as the Silver Creek Valley Country Club, Hillstone, The Ranch on Silver Creek, plus the largest seniors community in the valley: The Villages.

South San Jose, broadly speaking, is situated close to Highway 101 before it reaches Highway 85.  The area includes the district of South San Jose and also the district of Santa Teresa, which begins close to where the two freeways meets and goes into the Santa Teresa Foothills (Almaden Valley is on the other side of this small range).  Most locals would place Blossom Valley in the broader “South San Jose” region, too.

Southwest San Jose is the area following Highway 85 and  includes Almaden Valley and Cambrian, which is next to Los Gatos and Campbell (both noted for good schools).    *Side note: I sell all over Santa Clara County but have a concentration of experience in Almaden, Cambrian, and nearby areas such as Los Gatos, Campbell and Saratoga.  For this reason, I have covered many neighborhoods & subdivisions in these two areas on this site.

West San Jose refers to homes along the Campbell and Cupertino border.  Some of these areas enjoy the Cupertino public schools so are in very high demand, particularly for tech workers commuting to Cupertino, Sunnyvale and nearby.

To learn more about any of these areas, either use the links or navigate to the regions using the menu bar at the top from neighborhoods to San Jose to the area you want.



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  • Mary Pope-Handy

    Silicon Valley Realtor, selling homes in Los Gatos, Saratoga, San Jose, Silicon Valley, and nearby since 1993. Prolific blogger with a network of sites.

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